- Grist on the NYT's "baseless hit job on Gore," plus the story's origin in a Fox News doctored video
- Road to Copenhagen, Part 3: Re-Tooling Industry
- Breaking: Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman "will be working closely with the White House" to develop separate tripartisan climate bill to get 60 votes — with Reid's and Boxer's consent; Graham rebukes fellow Republicans saying, "The green economy is coming!"
- Solar power when the sun goes down — with help from United Technologies
- Energy and Global Warming News for November 4: Economists see threat in global warming
- Greening Your Small Business
Posted: 05 Nov 2009 08:34 AM PST
Al Gore is in the spotlight again with his must-read solutions book — "Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis." And that means the daggers are out. But who would have imagined that one of the first pieces would be by the NYT's John Broder, who repeats the false claims by "Critics, mostly on the political right and among global warming skeptics," that "Mr. Gore is poised to become the world's first 'carbon billionaire,' profiteering from government policies he supports that would direct billions of dollars to the business ventures he has invested in." I'm going to repost a piece by Media Matters from May that looks at one of the despicable origins of this smear, "O'Reilly Factor guest host Laura Ingraham presented clips of Al Gore's recent congressional testimony that had been edited to remove his statements that he donates the money he makes from his climate-related work to a non-profit organization."
But first I'm going to repost a response to the NYT piece by Grist's Dave Roberts:
Al Gore's back in the public eye, promoting his new book, which naturally raises the question: which mainstream press outlet will be the first to do a vapid hit piece?
Today [Monday] we have our answer: The New York Times, which has run a truly absurd and embarrassing piece from John Broder. It casts about desperately seeking something sinister about the fact that Gore invests in clean energy technologies. Listen to this piece of dark insinuation:
Gore is "positioned to profit," you understand. No wonder he's dedicated most of his adult life to schlepping around the world giving a slide show to tens of thousands of people! It was all to marginally increase the return on his future investments! Diabolical.
Who is saying this absurd crap?
"Critics, mostly on the political right and among global warming skeptics, say Mr. Gore is poised to become the world's first 'carbon billionaire' …" Critics like loony Rep. Marsha Blackburn and denialist propaganda hack Marc Morano. These are the people driving the NYT news operation now.
But look down toward the bottom. No, farther … farther … farther … yeah, waaay down in the second-to-last paragraph:
So all the money from Gore's investments is invested in a nonprofit to fight climate change. He's not "positioned to profit." He's not "poised" to become a "billionaire." The entire premise of the story is false. I'm sure the tiny percentage of readers who make it down this far in the story will be delighted to discover they've completely wasted their time.
To summarize: Professional Gore haters, who make their living peddling lies, cast an absurd charge against Gore. The charge goes in the headline. It goes in the first paragraphs of the story. Then in paragraph 32 it's revealed that the charge is baseless. And John Broder wasn't embarrassed to have this appear under his byline.
Oh, and to state the obvious: even if it were true, nobody but a professional Gore hater could possibly find anything wrong with someone investing in the very solutions they say are necessary to save the world. The non-Gore-demented might even find that a perfectly predictable way for a capitalist to respond.
As this Daily Kos diary points out, this seems of a piece with the New York Times' stated desire to be more "tuned-in" to Fox and right-wing talk radio. Apparently in our new media age, a baseless charge from 'wingers is in and of itself justification for an extended story on the nation's most precious news real estate. Welcome to the future.
JR: As I wrote back in May, if you saw Gore's terrific testimony on Waxman-Markey with former Sen. Warner (details here, full CSPAN video here), then you saw the absurd attempt by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to suggest that the reason Gore has been advocating climate action for decades is to make money. FoxNews doctored the video of Gore's response to smear him, and I'm excerpting a post from Morgan Weiland and the researchers at Media Matters who first blogged on this outrage in here.
On the May 1 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, during a segment suggesting that former Vice President Al Gore has profited from his advocacy of renewable energy and climate change mitigation, guest host Laura Ingraham presented clips of Gore's April 24 congressional testimony that had been edited to remove his statements that he donates the money he makes from his climate-related work to a non-profit organization.
Introducing the segment, Ingraham stated: "It seems that being green does pay big time — just ask Al Gore. Mr. Global Warming was worth about $2 million or so when he left office in 2001, but after eight years of tirelessly working to save the world, the planet, he's now reportedly — get this — worth a whopping $100 million. His financial windfall came up at last week's Capitol Hill hearing." Ingraham then aired the following selectively edited clips from Gore's testimony:
The full exchange from the hearing is included below, with the parts Ingraham provided in italics, and Gore's relevant responses — which were omitted from the O'Reilly Factor segment — in bold:
JR: Not only does Ingraham doctor the video, here is what she says after showing it.
JR: Yes, Laura, she did get the question actually answered — you just doctored it out and now have the nerve to make that slanderous insinuation.
Posted: 05 Nov 2009 06:25 AM PST
In case we need more evidence that an urgent economic transformation is required to avoid catastrophic climate change, it can be found in a new study commissioned by World Wildlife Fund International.
Conducted by Climate Risk Pty. Ltd. of Great Britain and Australia, the study concludes:
By "low carbon re-industrialization", the authors mean energy efficiency and clean generation technologies, low-carbon agriculture, and sustainable forestry. They have identified 24 critical resources and industries the world will need to develop quickly to avoid climate catastrophe. Among their conclusions:
"Starting with the least-cost mitigation solutions and working our way forward to higher-cost solutions as carbon prices rise – that approach will take too long," says Sean Kidney, Climate Risk's manager in Europe. "We need to tackle all solutions at the same time."
"We can harvest these enormous future savings now to create an income stream that funds the capital expenditures we need," Kidney says. How? Kidney and his colleagues are working on a number of ideas for new bonding mechanisms designed specifically to finance low-carbon investments.
What is government's role? The Presidential Climate Action Project has submitted several re-industrialization proposals to the Obama Administration and Congress. Among them:
We will not avoid climate catastrophe merely by tinkering around the edges of industrial society or by counting on a slow evolution of technologies and markets. As businessman and environmentalist Paul Hawken puts it, "There isn't one single thing that we make that doesn't require a complete remake."
Alex Steffen, the executive editor of worldchanging.com, says: "The magnitude of the crises we face, the speed with which they are unfolding…mean that the solutions we need to embrace are not going to be the same sort of solutions we're used to thinking of now…Faced with the need to reinvent the material basis of our civilization, we argue paper or plastic."
Can we reinvent world industry in only five years? The rapid redirection of U.S. industry during World War II suggests that it may be possible – but not without intense collaboration between governments and industries. There must be a third party in the deal, too: the citizen-consumer. In my next post, I'll suggest how government, industry and consumers can collaborate in a new social contract for economic transformation.
– Bill Becker
[JR: I would note that if this statement is true -- "To achieve an 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century, the world will have to invest $400 billion annually in green industries by 2025" -- the U.S. share is about $100 billion a year, which is just about what the climate and clean energy bill would result in (see "The only way to win the clean energy race is to pass the clean energy bill"). I actually think we'll need a bigger investment, maybe twice as big by 2025.]
Breaking: Graham, Kerry, and Lieberman "will be working closely with the White House" to develop separate tripartisan climate bill to get 60 votes — with Reid's and Boxer's consent; Graham rebukes fellow Republicans saying, "The green economy is coming!"
Posted: 04 Nov 2009 03:51 PM PST
In a mid-day press conference with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) that followed a meeting with Energy Secretary Steven Chu, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) said:
Brad Johnson at Wonk Room has Graham's remarkable remarks and this video:
Posted: 04 Nov 2009 02:09 PM PST
Concentrated solar thermal with storage (aka solar baseload) remains "The technology that will save humanity." And we are seeing more and more plants in various phases of construction (see "World's largest solar plant with thermal storage to be built in Arizona — total of 8500 MW of this core climate solution planned for 2014 in U.S. alone").
The easiest way to deal with the intermittency of the sun is cheap storage — and thermal storage is much cheaper and has a much higher round-trip efficiency than electric storage. The ability to provide power reliably throughout the day and evening in key locations around the world (including China and India) is why CSP delivers 3 of the 12 – 14 wedges needed for "the full global warming solution."
Now "A Santa Monica, Calif., company called SolarReserve has taken a step toward making that a reality, filing an application with California regulators to build a 150-megawatt solar farm that will store seven hours' worth of the sun's energy in the form of molten salt," as the NYT's Green Inc. reports today. "Heat from the salt can be released when it's cloudy or at night to create steam that drives an electricity-generating turbine." And SolarReserve has a big-time Fortune 50 clean energy partner:
Below is an artist's rendering of such a plant that focuses thousands of mirrors on millions of gallons of liquefied salt:
Here are more details:
Posted: 04 Nov 2009 12:43 PM PST
Researchers who deal in cold numbers rather than warming climates believe the "significant benefits from curbing greenhouse-gas emissions would justify the costs of action," a new survey finds.
In fact, the survey of economists finds 94% believe the U.S. should join climate agreements to limit global warming.
The survey results to be released today come as debate over the economics of global warming moves center stage in Washington, D.C. Republican senators boycotted a hearing Tuesday over an Environmental Protection Agency analysis about the costs of a clean-energy bill. In addition, the United States and European Union are preparing for a December meeting in Copenhagen to discuss a climate treaty.
"An economist tree hugger is an imaginary creature," says Michael Livermore of New York University's Institute for Policy Integrity, which conducted the survey. "But we found that economists really see climate change poses a lot of risk to the economy."
The survey approached the 289 economists who had published climate-related studies in the top 25 economics journals in the past 15 years. About half, 144, responded, and 75% agreed or strongly agreed on the "value" of greenhouse-gas controls.
In the survey of economists:
•91.6% wanted a tax or "cap and trade" system, where polluters buy and sell emission permits, instead of regulation, to cut greenhouse gases.
•84% agreed the effects of global warming "create significant risks" to the economy, particularly to agriculture, fishing, insurance and health.
•Of the 94.3% who favor the U.S. joining climate agreements to limit greenhouse-gas emissions, 57% say greenhouse-gas cuts should come "regardless of the actions of other countries."
This shouldn't be a total surprise, since most major independent economic analyses show even strong climate action has such a low total cost — one tenth of a penny on the dollar.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Congress and the Obama administration Tuesday to take bold steps to address global warming, even as Senate Democrats and Republicans feuded over whether to press ahead with a climate bill.
peaking at a joint meeting of Congress, Merkel described climate change as one of the "great tests" of the 21st century. She took pains to compliment lawmakers and the administration for viewing "the protection of our climate to be a very important task," even as she suggested that they move faster.
"We all know we have no time to lose," she said.
While the entire Democratic side gave those remarks a standing ovation, most Republicans — including key swing voters, such as Sen. Richard G. Lugar (Ind.) — remained in their seats. When Merkel added that curbing greenhouse gas emissions would spur growth in "innovative" jobs worldwide, the same partisan divide marked lawmakers' reaction.
Merkel tried to assuage lawmakers' concerns that any agreement coming out of international climate talks in Copenhagen next month would not include binding commitments from China and India, saying those nations will make serious emissions cuts once the leaders of industrialized nations "show ourselves ready to adopt binding commitments."
"In December the world will look to us, to the Europeans and to the Americans," she said.
President Obama today said that efforts need to be redoubled in order to make progress at the Copenhagen climate change summit next month in December.
"And all of us agreed that it was imperative for us to redouble our efforts in the weeks between now and the Copenhagen meeting, to assure that we create a framework for progress in dealing with what is a potential ecologic disaster."
The President spoke today at the end of the U.S.-European Union Summit in the Cabinet Room with the Prime Minister of Sweden Fredrik Reinfeldt, President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, and the European Council High Representative Javier Solana.
The leaders emerged from their hour-long meeting today confident about the status of the climate change negotiations that will culminate next month in Copenhagen. The summit will attempt to replace the Kyoto Protocol which expires in 2010.
"Regarding climate change I want to tell that I am more confident now than I was in days before," Barroso said, "President Obama changed the climate on the climate negotiations because with the strong leadership of United States we can indeed make an agreement. We are working toward a framework agreement in Copenhagen that will be an important agreement for the world."
Three prominent American research organizations that are pushing for greater cooperation between the Obama administration and China on the issue of climate change say the two governments should make a priority of supporting the use of carbon capture technology and the creation of a market for carbon.
The organizations, the Asia Society, the Center for American Progress and the Natural Resources Defense Council, or N.R.D.C., are putting out two separate reports this month that urge the two governments to put more money into projects in China that can better develop the technology of carbon capture and sequestration, commonly called C.C.S. The process captures carbon dioxide emissions from industrial and power plants before they enter the atmosphere and stores them underground, usually in geological formations.
President Obama is scheduled to make his first trip to China this month. He and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have said cooperation on climate change is a new top priority in United States-China relations. But the two countries have yet to take concrete steps together on any proposals. Some environmental advocates who have been following the talks say they are growing increasingly pessimistic about the chances of serious cooperation.
Advocates also say that any hope of a meaningful result emerging from the international climate change summit meeting to take place in December in Copenhagen might depend on whether the United States and China first demonstrate that they can reach agreements among themselves.
The Republicans may be boycotting the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee markup of climate legislation, but panel Democrats have been busy, filing 80 amendments for whenever the debate resumes.
EPW Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) opened the markup yesterday on the 959-page climate bill, though she did not get very far after Republicans boycotted the business meeting over what they say is insufficient analysis from U.S. EPA.
Boxer yesterday told reporters she would wait for Republicans "before we do any amendments" — though she walked back from that statement a few moments later and said she had not ruled out proceeding on the bill if the GOP committee members do not show up eventually.
Republicans for the second time yesterday ignored Boxer's deadlines for submitting amendments, leaving only the 80 Democratic items on the agenda should Boxer proceed with the markup. Some of the amendments focus on hot-button issues like greenhouse gas emission limits and pre-emption from U.S. EPA climate regulations.
Here is a rundown of some of the amendments pending in the EPW Committee:
Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has offered a series of provisions aimed at changing the bill's current 20 percent emissions target for 2020, according to his office.
Under one approach, Baucus would establish a two-tiered mid-term target that starts at 17 percent, though it go to 20 percent if other countries adopt and implement their own reduction targets before 2013. Baucus also has an amendment that would set the 2020 target at 14 percent, which is the same level that President Obama used during his presidential campaign last year.
Baucus' bid to overhaul the 2020 emissions limit may be the biggest fight of the EPW Committee markup. Boxer and the lead sponsor of S. 1733, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), say the recent economic downturn has already driven down domestic emissions and makes their goal that much more achievable. Liberals on the committee, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), have countered that they would prefer an even more aggressive 2020 emissions limit.
But Baucus, the chairman of the Finance Committee, opened the climate hearings last week warning of his own "serious reservations" if the sponsors did not budge on this issue.
Other Baucus amendments include a requirement that any state program with more stringent greenhouse gas limits after 2017 must be approved by that state's Legislature, as well as presidential oversight of domestic and international carbon offset project criteria.
Further pushing the envelope with his Democratic colleagues, Baucus also is seeking to limit EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases through the Clean Air Act — with specific goals of exempting agriculture and small sources that emit less than 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalents per year.
Baucus also has an amendment that would eliminate EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the law's New Source Review provisions, which focus on aging industrial facilities. And he would try to block EPA after 2020 from regulating enteric fermentation or manure under the law's New Source Performance Standards, which deal with new industrial facilities.
Posted: 04 Nov 2009 12:24 PM PST
CP's newest guest blogger is Jennifer Kaplan, founder of Greenhance LLC, which offers small businesses environmentally friendly marketing and graphic design. She also teaches marketing at Marymount University in Arlington, VA. Her new book from Prentice Hall, "Greening Your Small Business: How to Improve Your Bottom Line, Grow Your Brand, Satisfy Your Customers—and Save the Planet," comes out this month.
If you are wondering where small business fits into the green revolution let's start with the recognition that 27 million small businesses can have a big impact. There are many business owners, however, who are doubtful and wonder whether small business has a role to play in managing climate change. Surely, they think, most small business' individual impacts are minuscule, possibly immeasurably small. But the reality is that, in aggregate, the total climate-related impact of small businesses adds up. Without question every business, no matter the size, has an indirect impact on climate; the electricity, heating, cooling, transportation, and other services they use all translate into CO2 output with global warming impact. Then there's the law of large numbers—a small action multiplied by 27 million has a significant impact.
Take the example of green information technology.
For a small business, IT may not seem like a likely candidate for greening, but given the scale of computer use among small businesses, it is. Although the environmental impact of a businesses' IT operations varies greatly depending on how much computer hardware is needed to run the business, reductions in energy consumption and energy expenses can be made for operations that have a single computer on site. It may be that there is no area of business more subject to the law of large numbers than information technology. Consider these facts: Having Concepcion Picciotto - White House Anti-Nuclear Peace Vigil Co-Founder with W. Thomas